Early Christians living in Egypt; also referred to as the Copts, invented and used Coptic book binding from the 2nd century AD through the 11th century. This bookmaking method was used to create codices that held the Gnostic Gospels, including the Gospel of Thomas. These were discovered in the Nag Hammadi Library.
This non-adhesive binding structure is created by joining multiple sections together with a chain stitch along the spine, The stitching can be simplistic or very elaborate depending on preference. Ethiopian codices, similar to the Coptic, were developed around the same time. One of the main differences between the two was the use of multiple needles to sew the text block instead of just one, (which the Copts did). These books were also typically left uncovered.
Coptic codices were traditionally made with the stitching done first, followed by the attachment of the covers, where as today we see the cover sewn in with the text block. The Coptic bind definitely allows for a lot of creativity and experimentation within the technique and the structure itself. It is also a great introductory form to learn for beginners who are investigating the book arts world.
Today we see Coptic stitching that has more imagery and intricacy. Geometric patterns and the use of multiple colors for string seem to be the most popular today. Using decorative papers can also change the look of the book structure and allow it to be more personalized,
Detailed Instructions to create your own Coptic: http://emmajane.net/files/coptic.pdf
Monday Methods: Coptic Binding - The Center for Book Arts. (2012). Retrieved April 09, 2016, from http://centerforbookarts.org/monday-methods-coptic-binding/
My Handbound Books - Bookbinding Blog. (n.d.). Retrieved April 09, 2016, from http://myhandboundbooks.blogspot.com/2010/07/little-history-of-chain-stitch.html